Catching Up

Tonight I caught up with the word count required for day 13 of the novel-in-a-month project. I basically sacrificed most of Saturday and the entire Sunday–except for walking my dog, Star–to get caught up. I blew off a bunch of errands. After that, I pressed on and wrote tomorrow’s word count as well. So now I’m ahead, finally. (Last year, I shot out ahead early and stayed way ahead of the count.)

One of the things I’ve learned is this: Writing the required word count (1,665 per day for 30 days) is not the hard part. Scene planning is the thing that makes this difficult. Once I actually have a plan for the scene I’m about to write, and I’m excited about that scene, it all goes very quickly. (Sometimes, all that’s required is a rough direction, like, “Goes to meet his brother in a parking lot.”) If I don’t have a plan for the scene I want to write, I am essentially dead in the water.

Now, tomorrow I have to go back to work, and I have a bunch of visitors in town from Chicago. Bah…I need another weekend.

Writing at the Green Muse

Ho, ho…my friend Ricardo and I are both working on our 30-day-novels at the Green Muse, a coffee shop here in Austin (in the South First area). Despite living here since ’93, I only recently discovered this place, after a friend turned me on to it.

The coffee shop is playing something by the White Stripes, off an album I don’t have. (Earlier, they were playing the Shins.)

In an hour and a half, I’ve written a thousand words. Not particularly fast, but looking back over last night’s scene, I really like it.

Not sure how long we’ll keep going, but hopefully for another couple of hours.

(Note: By the end of the night, I was at 15,500. Technically, I was supposed to be around 16,500. Some I should be able to catch up soon. Getting ahead of the word count is key, since that makes up for days when I can’t find the time to write or when some part of my life blows up.)

Some progress…

I’m still running behind, but at least I wrote tonight, instead of socializing and slacking. Currently, 9 days into this year’s novel-in-a-month project, I have 12,260 words written. (Supposed to have roughly 15,000 done.) I might be able to get fully back on track if I manage a boring weekend. (Unlikely.)

Tonight I cleaned up a scene in the present, where the protagonist arives back in his home town, and wrote an 8 page scene in the past, where a family pet dies a gruesome death.

Some of this is difficult shit. The modern version of the protagonist is like an imagined, twisted version of me, sans therapy. Much of what he does is just fantasy, delusion or paranoia. Everything that the childhood version remembers is something that I remember. That’s one of the challenges of this novel project for me, but that’s also what makes it cool and worthwhile.

National Novel Writing Month

This year’s novel-in-a-month is underway. I’m calling it His Black Wings. (Working title.)

By the end of the day, I’m supposed to have 11,655 words written. Currently I’m at 8,730…I’m already falling behind. (More coffee, less wine.)

Last year’s novel was easier to write; everything just flowed from beginning to end, for 52,000 words.

This year’s project is more ambitious: It alternates between the troubled main character’s present and past. Some of the scenes just spring to life, while other times I sit here wondering what the next major scene will involve. As soon as I figure that out, I’m rolling along, even if it’s something simple, like “goes to visit his brother.”

I need a few high impact days this week to stay on track.

Digging through really old images

There’s something magical about seeing an old picture of yourself, from a time so far back that you literally cannot remember being in that place, wearing those clothes or committing those acts. And yet it has to be you…the evidence is incontrovertible.

So much of my early life involved capes. Also, I remember this dart gun. When she told me to put it down once, I shot my great grandmother with both spring-loaded barrels. She won, by promptly whipping me. Daaaamn, Granny.


Ah, Freeport. This is the ditch I would sit in while my dad welded offscreen. Sometimes he’d send me to the bar across the street (seen here with these ‘vintage’ autos) for soft drinks or a burger basket. Good times!


Me and mom, on the see-saw. One of her many hair styles.


Doesn’t everyone love booth photos? I do.


A friend brought me this from his childhood collection. It’s him, his brother, me, my brother and a mutual cousin my friend and I share via marriage. Seeing this was surreal, since I didn’t meet my friend for another 6-7 years after this pic was taken. In other words, at some point, well before we hung out and knew each other, he and I were photographed at the same little kid birthday party.


Last one is my mom. She’s quite fetching here.